111 Pages

Blake's Burden


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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blake's Burden, by Harold Bindloss This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Blake's Burden Author: Harold Bindloss Release Date: June 18, 2009 [EBook #29155] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BLAKE'S BURDEN *** Produced by Al Haines [Transcriber's note: this book has essentially the same story as Bindloss's "The Intriguers", Project Gutenberg ( #14406, however, the differences in text, paragraphing, and chapter structure range from minor to radically different. As an example, this book has 32 chapters, while Intriguers has only 24.] BLAKE'S BURDEN By HAROLD BINDLOSS Author of "The Impostor," "Hawtrey's Deputy," "The Pioneer," etc WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED LONDON, MELBOURNE AND TORONTO 1917 BY THE SAME AUTHOR The Impostor Beneath Her Station The Liberationist League of the Leopard A Damaged Reputation The Dust of Conflict Hawtrey's Deputy The Protector The Pioneer The Trustee The Wastrel The Allinson Honour Blake's Burden The Secret of the Reef The Intruder A Risky Game The Borderer CONTENTS CHAP. I THE BLAKE AFFAIR II MILLICENT RENEWS AN ACQUAINTANCE III THE COUSINS IV CHALLONER RESUMES HIS JOURNEY V MRS. KEITH GETS A SURPRISE VI HARDING GROWS CONFIDENTIAL VII MRS. CHUDLEIGH GATHERS INFORMATION VIII THE PRAIRIE IX CLARKE MAKES A SUGGESTION X BENSON GIVES TROUBLE XI HARDING GROWS SUSPICIOUS XII THE MUSKEG XIII CLARKE'S SUMMONS XIV THE CURE XV MRS. CHUDLEIGH FINDS A CLUE XVI MRS. KEITH ENTERS THE FIELD XVII THE PICTURE GALLERY XVIII COLONEL CHALLONER PROVES OBDURATE XIX CHALLONER'S DECISION XX MRS. CHUDLEIGH MAKES A FRESH ATTEMPT XXI A NEW PERSECUTOR XXII CLARKE MODIFIES HIS PLANS XXIII THE CARIBOU XXIV THE FACTORY XXV THE BACK TRAIL XXVI THE RESCUE XXVII A STARTLING DISCOVERY XXVIII A MATTER OF DUTY XXIX BLAKE HOLDS HIS GROUND XXX MRS. CHUDLEIGH'S DEFEAT XXXI A DIFFICULT QUESTION XXXII HARDING STRIKES OIL CHAPTER I THE BLAKE AFFAIR It was a fine morning and Mrs. Keith sat with a companion, enjoying the sunshine, near the end of Dufferin Avenue, which skirts the elevated ground above the city of Quebec. Behind her rose the Heights of Abraham where the dying Wolfe wrested Canada from France; in front, churches, banks, offices and dwellings, curiously combining the old and the very new, rose tier on tier to the great red Frontenac hotel, at which she was staying. It is a picturesque city that climbs back from its noble river; supreme, perhaps, in its situation among Canadian towns, and still retaining something of the exotic stamp set upon it by its first builders whose art was learned in the France of long ago. From where she sat Mrs. Keith could not see the ugly wooden wharves. Her glance rested on the flood that flowed towards her, still and deep, through a gorge lined with crags and woods, and then, widening rapidly, washed the shores of a low, green island. Opposite her white houses shone on the Levis ridge, and beyond this a vast sweep of country, steeped in gradations of colour that ended in ethereal blue, rolled away towards the hills of Maine. Quebec was then filled with distinguished guests. British royalty had visited it, with many who belonged to the great world in London and some who aspired to do so. Canada had become fashionable, and in addition to English folk of station, Westerners and Americans of note had gathered in the ancient city. The ceremonies were over, but the company had not all dispersed. The two ladies were elderly. They had played their part in the drama of life, one of them in a strenuous manner, and now they were content with the position of lookers on. So far, however, nothing had occurred since breakfast to excite their interest, and by and by Mrs. Keith turned to her companion with characteristic briskness. "I think I'll go to Montreal by the special boat to-night," she said. "The hotel's crowded, the town's full, and you keep meeting people whom you know or have heard about. I came here to see Canada, but find it hard to realize that I'm not in London; I'm tired of the bustle." Mrs. Ashborne smiled. She had met Margaret Keith by chance in Quebec, but their acquaintance was of several years' standing. "Tired?" she said. "That is surely a new sensation for you. I've often envied you your energy." Age had touched Mrs. Keith lightly, though she had long been a childless widow and had silvery hair. Tall and finely made, with prominent nose and piercing eyes, she was marked by a certain stateliness and a decided manner. She was blunt without rudeness, and though often forceful was seldom arrogant. Careless of her dress, as she generally was, Margaret Keith bore the stamp of refinement and breeding. "Ah!" she said; "I begin to feel I'm old. But will you come to Montreal with me to-night?" "I suppose I'd better, though the boat takes longer than the train and I hear that the Place Viger is full. I don't know anything about the other hotels; they mightn't be comfortable." "They'll no doubt be able to offer us all that we require, and I never pamper myself," Mrs. Keith replied. "In fact, it's now and then a relief to do something that's opposed to the luxuriousness of the age." This was a favourite topic, but she broke off as a man came towards her, carrying one or two small parcels which apparently belonged to the girl at his side. He was a handsome man, tall and rather spare, with dark eyes and a soldierly look. His movements were quick and forceful, but a hint of what Mrs. Keith called swagger somewhat spoiled his bearing. She thought he allowed his self-confidence to be seen too plainly. The girl formed a marked contrast to him; she was short and slender, her hair and eyes were brown, while her prettiness, for one could not have called her beautiful, was of an essentially delicate kind. It did not strike one at first sight, but grew upon her acquaintances. Her manner was quiet and reserved and she was plainly dressed in white, but when she turned and dismissed her companion her pose was graceful. Then she handed Mrs. Keith some letters and papers. "I have been to the post office and Captain Sedgwick made them search for our mail," she said. "It came some time ago, but there was a mistake through its not being addressed to the hotel." Mrs. Keith